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Old 06-19-2010   #31 (permalink)
Sol
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Great trip report and slide show Joanie!! That is so cool that you had the opportunity to visit a mask maker's studio/shop.

Your pictures brought back some great memories. I love this region of Mexico. I took a business trip to Morelia. I arrived on a Saturday, so the Sunday before my meetings began, I booked a tour. We visited Janitzio, Quiroga, and Tzintzuntzan (I get a kick out of this name). I didn't have enough room in my suitcase to bring back all of the things that I wanted. I have been wanting to go back to visit.

I look forward to reading the rest of your trip report.
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Old 06-20-2010   #32 (permalink)
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Joanie, I have never been to Patzcuaro, but by reading your trip report I'm sure you got a more than excelent hotel and a superb guide. Congratulations.

The hotel has the complete feel and look of a wealthy hacendado (Hacienda owner), obviously as you said, it looks like the owner wanted to show all the souvenirs, but with a great taste, that ceiling with the lamps and fabrics is amazing. Once I visited the small hacienda of a friend's family (it only had about 10-13 rooms) and didn't had as many decorations as the hotel, but the feeling was the same, the blankets in the bedroom would be the same, so the kitchen furniture (except the microwave oven of course).

You got a very good guide, the prices are more than good, some people may charge you more than that without providing a car. And noting the price of the lunch (60 pesos) and hat ($50 pesos) he took you to a very real places, not a tourist trap where the owner gives a comission to the guides for bringing "victims" which is very common at Teotihuacan for example.

Good for you!!!!
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Old 06-20-2010   #33 (permalink)
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Joanie, I have never been to Patzcuaro, but by reading your trip report I'm sure you got a more than excelent hotel and a superb guide. Congratulations.

The hotel has the complete feel and look of a wealthy hacendado (Hacienda owner), obviously as you said, it looks like the owner wanted to show all the souvenirs, but with a great taste, that ceiling with the lamps and fabrics is amazing. Once I visited the small hacienda of a friend's family (it only had about 10-13 rooms) and didn't had as many decorations as the hotel, but the feeling was the same, the blankets in the bedroom would be the same, so the kitchen furniture (except the microwave oven of course).

You got a very good guide, the prices are more than good, some people may charge you more than that without providing a car. And noting the price of the lunch (60 pesos) and hat ($50 pesos) he took you to a very real places, not a tourist trap where the owner gives a comission to the guides for bringing "victims" which is very common at Teotihuacan for example.

Good for you!!!!
We were very fortunate to have been able to hire Jaime as our guide. We thought that his prices were incredibly reasonable and he provided us with a REAL experience of actually going into people's homes to view their workshops. When we went to Felipe Horta's workshop, he and his family were in the process of setting up for a birthday party, and so had a large table set up in their garden/courtyard that was laden with bottles of tequila and other treats. Felipe's wife came out to say hello. She was making pozole for the party.

The workshops we went to were the places where actual items were produced and then later sold in public markets or in shops at a higher price. As I think that I said before, when we drove around Lake Patzcuaro and into these tiny villages, most of the places we went to had NO signs indicating that you could come in and visit the craftspeople. You had to KNOW that the shop was in there. Jaime, having grown up in Patzcuaro, has met all these people over time, and so knows the best places to go to.

Even with the mask that I bought for $6000 pesos ~ it had taken Felipe about 1 year, off and on working on it to finish it. He had entered it in a crafts competition locally and had won 1st place for it. Felipe had been invited, along with another local craft person to attend and exhibit their pieces at a folk art exhibition in Santa Fe New Mexico. He had planned on taking that mask as one of the main pieces. I KNOW that it would have sold for much, much more there!

We REALLY liked Jaime. I cannot say enough about him as a guide, and would highly recommend him to ANYONE who is thinking about visiting the Lake Patzcuaro area!

AND ~ Jesus ~ you MUST go to Patzcuaro sometime! Mike and I liked it so much, we are already making plans for another visit there!!
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Old 06-20-2010   #34 (permalink)
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San Francisco Uricho

From Jaracuaro, we continued on to the village of Uricho. This little Tarascan village was utterly charming. It didn’t have anything to offer in the way of crafts, but it had a beautiful church that has remained intact from the 1600s. This was important, as MANY historic churches in this general area (probably other areas as well) were burned by guerillas during the time of the Mexican revolution. Our guide, Jaime, provided us with many historical tid-bits and stories during our tours.

This market was basically the center of town. You can see the church just up the street.



Adjacent to the enclosed market, someone had set up an outdoor market selling various household utensils in front of the town government building. You probably can’t see the sign on the wall because I reduced the size of this photo so much, but the Spanish name of this village is San Francisco, so the entire “official” name is San Francisco Uricho.



A residence above the market.



Taking a siesta in la sombra.



The church was just one block from the center of the village.



This amazing altar with its many large oil painting depicting the passion of Christ is original. I found it amazing also, that such an elaborate church is located in such a small village.



The statues and figures of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints in all of the churches that we visited often had handmade clothing ~ giving them a doll-like appearance. It appeared that all the altar cloths were also handmade and embroidered by the local women of the village. Every church we went to had lots of fresh flowers on display. Note the beautiful hand decorated wall.



The ceiling and elaborate chandeliers above the altar.



Several saints on display.



From Uricho, we headed back towards Patzcuaro to take a look at a complex of wood carvers.
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Old 06-20-2010   #35 (permalink)
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Wood Carvers, Embroiderers & More....

A group of various wood carvers has set up a shop on the tree lined main road ~ I believe it's called Lázaro Cárdenas ~ into the center of Patzcuaro.

The creations were fabulous, to say the least! I would have loved to have taken home any number of pieces on display there ~ especially some of the pillars!

The place was absolutely jam packed with carvings and also some paintings of every size and description!

















From this shop, we headed out of Patzcuaro towards the lake, and then turned onto the road to Morelia. It was on this road that we stopped at the very nice restaurant which offered the 3 course comida for only $60 pesos! I'll contact Jaime to see if I can get the name of this restaurant, in case any of you might like to eat there should you travel to Patzcuaro.

Following lunch, we headed up the road on the east side of lake Patzcuaro and stopped at the village of Sanabria.

Here's the map of the Lake Patzcuaro villages again to help keep you on track as to where we have been and where we were headed.....



Mask Shop: Tocuaro
Hat Village: Jaracuaro
Fancy Church: San Francisco Uricho
Wood Carvers: the road into Patzcuaro coming from the main Morelia-Uruapan highway

In Sanabria, there is a co-op of embroiderers (artistas del bordado) that is managed by Teofila Servin, an attractive, vivacious woman. Teofila had also been invited to the folk art exhibition in Santa Fe New Mexico. I purchased a lovely embroidered pillow cover (easy and safe to pack!) that depicts the daily lives of the local Tarascan people. The price was either $220 or $240 pesos (less than US $20).



This was the front of Teofila's shop.



From Sanabria, we headed for Ihuatzio, which is famous for its palm weaving and baskets.

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Old 06-20-2010   #36 (permalink)
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Joanie,

Beautiful set of pictures! I love the pillowcase you bought!
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Old 06-21-2010   #37 (permalink)
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Smile Teofila Servin

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Joanie,

I love the pillowcase you bought!
I came across a card with a picture of Teofila Servin and some of the items that are offered for sale by the co-op. They have all sorts of things for sale ~ pillow cases, wall hangings, table cloths, napkins, aprons, etc.....

Sorry for the quality of this image. The scanner didn't do a very good job coverting it to a jpg.

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Old 06-21-2010   #38 (permalink)
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Again...WOW!! I really do need to take a trip out there!
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Old 06-21-2010   #39 (permalink)
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Again...WOW!! I really do need to take a trip out there!
We thought the entire area was simply AMAZING!!! There are SO many crafts to look at and things to see. The people are very friendly. Prices are reasonable. We can hardly wait to go back.

Before I bought our Continental tickets, I switched to a Chase Continental Credit Card, so we can earn extra miles with Continental. Even at that point, after just planning the trip, I KNEW we would be going back to this part of Mexico again and Continental has the best connections for us traveling from Tampa.....no connections through Mexico City. Just direct flights from Houston to almost anywhere you want to go to....Morelia, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Aguascalientes, Leon, etc......

BTW ~ don't know if you ordinarily travel alone or with someone, but I read a blog written by a single woman in her 40s who is from the Pacific Northwest who regularly travels in this area. She said that traveling alone has its benefits, as she is frequently approached by people who want to sit and chat with her. That way she gets to practice her Spanish and they get to practice their English.

HERE is a blog of "Barb's Travels." VERY Inspiring!!!

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Old 06-21-2010   #40 (permalink)
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We thought the entire area was simply AMAZING!!! There are SO many crafts to look at and things to see. The people are very friendly. Prices are reasonable. We can hardly wait to go back.

Before I bought our Continental tickets, I switched to a Chase Continental Credit Card, so we can earn extra miles with Continental. Even at that point, after just planning the trip, I KNEW we would be going back to this part of Mexico again and Continental has the best connections for us traveling from Tampa.....no connections through Mexico City. Just direct flights from Houston to almost anywhere you want to go to....Morelia, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Aguascalientes, Leon, etc......

BTW ~ don't know if you ordinarily travel alone or with someone, but I read a blog written by a single woman in her 40s who is from the Pacific Northwest who regularly travels in this area. She said that traveling alone has its benefits, as she is frequently approached by people who want to sit and chat with her. That way she gets to practice her Spanish and they get to practice their English.

HERE is a blog of "Barb's Travels." VERY Inspiring!!!
Yes!!! We fly to ALL of those places! Next time you go and if you have an extended layover in Houston let me know! I live less than 10 minutes from the airport!

Traveling alone really doesn't bother me but I prefer to travel with someone so I can share the experience!
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Old 06-21-2010   #41 (permalink)
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Smile More of Our Saturday Travels Around Lake Patzcuaro

After our stop at the embroidery co-op in Sanabria, we headed over to the village of Ihuatzio, which is famous for its palm weaving and baskets. After taking a look at all sorts of woven items, I purchased a little lidded woven palm container with a flower on top for $25 pesos.

Here’s a photo of just a tiny bit of what was on display there.




I’d like to back up just a bit ~ back to the mask makers' village of Tocuaro. I KNEW that we had at least one more photo from a special non-mask place there and I JUST located it ~ thanks to Mike…it was from HIS camera, so I didn’t have it.

After we visited Felipe Horta’s mask workshop in his home, we went down the street a bit to a fenced “Fiesta” area that people use for outdoor events and parties. Tucked in by this place, and behind a closed door, was a workshop where animals are made from reeds collected from Lake Patzcuaro. We would have NEVER known that this workshop was there, but our guide Jaime did!

The reeds looked like the green part of cattails which had been dried to me. They were bundled together into a bunch that was secured with a strong wire. Then the artisan shaped the reed bundle into animal body shape ~ ducks, flamingos, and other waterfowl seemed to be the most popular, but I believe I saw rabbits as well. Once the body was formed, a carved wooden head was glued on, and feet, if necessary. I bought a nice duck for a small amount ~ I think it was $150 pesos.

Here’s the reed workshop. Notice the photo of the rooster on the wall. I wondered if it was of a fighting cock. That “sport” is still popular in Mexico. Also notice the modern "green" lightbulb.



One of the guys here (ANOTHER Horta ~ almost all the mask carvers in Tocuaro have the last name of Horta) was working on a small carved mask, so I bought that too. It’s just natural wood, but it’s very nicely done. He was asking $100 pesos, which was a bargain. I had him sign it for me. I’ll have to collect all the various items I purchased during this trip and take a photo of them all together.

From Ihuatzio, we headed back towards Sanabria and then turned north towards the town of Tzintzuntzan (Tseen-TSOON-tsahn ~ The place of hummingbirds) which was once the capital of the Purépecha Indian Empire.

As we traveled the highway to the town, we came on a HUGE display of all sorts of carved stone statues, fountains and objects that lined both sides of the highway.











This place is apparently well known and prices are good. Jaime told me that people drive from long distances ~ such as San Miguel de Allende ~ to buy stonework and take it home.







I loved this stone fountain and suggested to Mike that we should consider driving our pickup truck down into Mexico sometime so we could take large items back home with us!





The gentleman who owns this place must be doing alright with his business, as he had a very nice home.



Here are some of the huge stones taken from a quarry nearby.



We had a great time looking around, but didn't buy anything. Maybe NEXT time IF we drive down in our truck!

Onward to Tzintzuntzan!

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Old 06-21-2010   #42 (permalink)
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This has to be the most informative trip report ....ever. Continuing to enjoy reading all your information.....love this collection!!!!

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Old 06-21-2010   #43 (permalink)
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This has to be the most informative trip report ....ever. Continuing to enjoy reading all your information.....
Glad you are enjoying it! AND...I'm not even halfway done! I am DETERMINED to do this trip report from beginning to end!!
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Old 06-21-2010   #44 (permalink)
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Glad you are enjoying it! AND...I'm not even halfway done! I am DETERMINED to do this trip report from beginning to end!!
You'll get it done! It isn't easy going through all the photos, sizing, etc....and then placing them within your text. I'm appreciating your effort! I loved the carved stone fish......
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Old 06-21-2010   #45 (permalink)
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Tzintzuntzan ~ and Back to Patzcuaro

After leaving the wonderful carved stone display, we continued up the road to Tzintzuntzan, which has a large open market with all sorts of craft items for sale.









I had spotted a small green ceramic pineapple container that I liked (you can see some larger ones in one of the photos) but the little one, which would have been fairly easy to pack was damaged, and I was unable to find another one, so I ended up not buying anything here. I would have LOVED to take home some of the ceramic cooking/serving dishes, but I was too afraid of them getting broken on the way home.

Adjacent to the market was the religious complex of San Francisco ~ which consists of the church ~ “La Soledad” plus a monastery and convent.

The large, grassy park-like area in front of the church has some olive trees growing there that are over 200 years old.





MANY stones in and around this complex of buildings were taken from the ancient Purepecha stone temples across the highway. Quite a few had petroglyphs carved into them. When the Spanish conquered this region, it was typical to tear down the old “heathen” temples/pyramids and build a church on or very near the original site using the stones.

This is the altar in the church.



Inside of the church, there’s a reported “miracle” occurring. A several hundred year old cane pulp figure of Christ, which is inside a glass “coffin,” is reportedly “growing.” One end of the coffin has an added extension to accommodate the feet, with the toes reaching the glass end. Inside the glass coffin are U.S. and Mexican currency from people who have asked for a miracle in their lives. An attendant of the figurine offered, for a donation, to place the original crown from the figure on my head while I kneeled at a little altar and prayed for "my" miracle. Apparently MANY people make pilgrimages to this church to ask for miracles from the growing Jesus. I tend to be a skeptic when it comes to these things, but it certainly was interesting. No photos were allowed to be taken of the coffin and the figurine.

Notice the baby’s hat that was placed by this statue of the Virgin. Undoubtedly, someone was entreating the Virgin for a miracle (milagro) of some sort for their child.



We took a tour of the inside of the monastery and convent, but weren’t allowed to take photos inside. The girl who conducted the tour spoke EXCELLENT English and was very informative.

Here are some photos of the outside of the building.







Notice all of the angel’s heads carved in this lovely arch.



This was an adobe building adjacent to the monastery buildings. Notice the extra adobe bricks.



Some pretty geraniums and donkey’s tail plants.



Some of the grounds around the church.



This is an open chapel outside of the main church.



More out buildings.



Inasmuch as it was around 4pm, we decided to head back into Patzcuaro, as it had been a LONG day! We didn’t get to see the Purepecha temples, but that’s something to save for another time.

On our way back into Patzcuaro, we encountered a LARGE wedding processional on horseback ~ with the bride and groom in a horse drawn carriage ~ SLOWLY making its way down Lazaro Cardenas from the center ~ probably to some “Fiesta Grounds” for the reception. This is THE main road in and out of town, and it’s just two lanes….

The traffic back-up into Patzcuaro was AMAZING! We were VERY fortunate to be headed in the other direction! I’m sure most of the motorists never knew just what was causing the jam up! The wedding processional was SO long that there was no way that anyone could pass it.

Here are a couple of photos that I took from our minivan as we drove along. They’re sort of blurry because of that. I missed getting a picture of the carriage with the bride and groom.





Notice the dog that had joined the parade!



Jaime and his uncle dropped us off at La Casa Encantada shortly before 5pm and told us that he would pick us up again on Monday at 10am. Mike and I freshened up a bit and then headed out in search of algunas cervezas frías!

We were getting to encounter a REALLY SPECIAL celebration that we had NO IDEA was going to happen!

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